Thursday, September 26, 2013

Almost finished

One of my hiking goals for this year was to finish the south side of the Ko'olau Mountain range in sections.  I have a lot of the sections under my belt ever since I started to hike.  The south or "town side" of the range runs from Makapu'u to the Pali.  This past Sunday I completed a huge chunk of it from Palolo to Hawaii Loa Ridge. 

Early Sunday morning I sent out a text to the people that wanted to hike saying, "Looks like there is a band of showers coming through... What you guys think?"  They left the decision up to me and I decided to go for it.  In the back of my mind I thought we would be walking in the rain for most of the day which would be lousy.  When I started driving to meet my buddy Matt I looked towards the mountains and that's when my mind changed about the weather.  I could see peaks but it was still a little cloudy.  It gave me hope that later in the day it would clear. 

We staged a car at our exit point and drive back to our starting trail head which would be Palolo.  We started to hike around 7:30 am thinking it would take us 12 hours.  In the end it only took 9 hours.  I planned to only hike with a liter of water to save weight going up to the summit.  Before the summit there was a stream in which I would filter the water from.  Using Matt's Camelbak All Clear we zapped the water with the uv light to kill all the bacteria in the water.  I filled the first liter and boy was the water brown/red.  The water comes from was bog.  It didn't look appetizing but I had to fill because we had a long hike ahead.  I test tasted the water and it tasted really metallic.  We filled our Camelbak's and were on our way up the spur ridge.  I knew that this would be one of the hardest throughout our hike.   

We hit the summit and the summit was CLEAR!!!!!  All our spirits were lifted and we got energized for what was ahead.  After the ten minute break we pushed off to the next summit, Lanipo.  The coolest and main feature on the way to Lanipo was a saddle.  It wasn't bad for a saddle, nothing like the extreme saddles.  When we dropped down into it we took some cool pictures looking towards town and the windward side.  Looks like a good camp ground too!  We ascended and reached the peak.  This by far was my favorite peak out of all the others on that day.  The summit had a nice grassy section, dry and had some good views of Piliwale and Konahuanui in the clouds.  We stayed there for a good time before we started hiking again. 

The next summit we were aiming for was Wiliwilinui.  On the summit of Lanipo we could see the antenna where you pass on the way to Wiliwilinui.  There is an in between peak which is called Waialae Nui.  This section was a little overgrown but nothing we couldn't push through.  The clouds also started to roll up and over from the windward side which made the ridge line look mysterious.  Making our way there we hit some up and downs on the summit.  There was one section with power line poles before we hit the summit of Wiliwilinui. When we hit Wiliwilinui the clouds seemed to part which in turn gave us nice views and a nice bench to sit on.  This was when we started to feel it in our legs.  It was lunch time when we hit this peak. 

After a good half an hour and lots of drinking of red dirt water we decided to head to our next summit, Wailupe.  I've never been to the summit of Wailupe either but since HTMC recently cleared a loop from Wailupe Valley to Wiliwilinui State trail, the summit crossing was relatively clear of any brush you had to push through (Thanks HTMC).  Once we reached Wailupe I was already starting to complain.  It's horrible but I knew from the beginning how long and how brutal this hike was going to be on my body.  I knew that I could do it but still complained.  Remember if you do this hike know your bail outs and know how much time it will take to complete it.

Coming down Wailupe our next peak and final peak was Hawaii Loa.  I was dying to get there, and finish this hike.  Katie was way ahead and blazing in the clouds while Matt and I were suffering.  We saw a peak and I wasn't sure if it was Hawaii Loa but one could hope right?  I was wrong.  Then I thought it was next, but trying to discern peaks in the clouds was difficult.  I saw the next peak and pleaded out loud, "Please let this be the last one!"  Katie had already reached the summit and she was gone even before Matt and I got there.  I took a couple sips of my nasty metallic water and saw one peak away over some people standing on it.  I said, "That's the one!"  I was relieved because it was just a few minutes away.  I got my second wind and blew it all on the last peak knowing that I was done with the KST for the rest of the day.  Katie waited at the top and the group that was there asked where we had come from.  We told them Palolo and they were like WHAT!?  Katie had one more peak to go to before she completed her South side part of the KST.  I told her just tag the peak and come back.  I knew she was tired but since we were up there she did it anyways.  She tagged the summit of Kulepeamoa and returned within forty five minutes.  Matt and I just watched the clouds roll in and out with views of Waimanalo. 

On our way down Hawaii Loa I was glad it was nicely groomed and so happy I could spread my arms nice and wide and not have to worry about brush scratching me while walking.  We got back to the car with lots of sunlight left, and went to Honolulu Burger Company to eat a nice juicy burger. 

What I have left...
The last section from Pali to Makapu'u I need to complete is the notches to Konahuanui.  I plan to do it before the end of the year weather permitting. 

The whole Ko'olau's...
-Waikane to Waiau
-Waimalu to Redhill
-Stairway to Pali...  I don't really plan on completing the Kalihi Saddle but it would be nice

That's what I have left, by the end of next year hopefully all of it with the exception of the Kalihi Saddle. 

 We started from here.  

 Gathered water and filtered it... notice how the water isn't too appetizing!

 The cross over to Lanipo.  Insane views!

 The notch/saddle before hitting the summit of Lanipo

 The climb before the summit of Lanipo.

 Ti leaf

 Clouds rolled in as we hiked along the summit.  Before Waialae Nui.  Made for cool pictures.

 Every so often we were greeted with gorgeous views of the windward side.  

 We still had a really long way to go... This is before the summit of Wiliwilinui. 

 Looking down. 

 Clouds cleared just before the summit of Wailupe

 Matt and Katie enjoying the view

 The final ascent to Hawaii Loa summit. 

Looking towards town just below the summit of Hawaii Loa. 


Almost finished from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Last day on Maui

The night before the last day on Maui we came back to our home stay and ate some hotdogs.  We were beat from that days activities that most of us were really tired. 

In the morning I woke up so sore.  I woke up before the sun so I decided to head down to a secret brackish water pool to take some sun rise shots.  As I was getting ready the rest of the group over heard me talking to Katie that I was going to take some pictures so they got ready quickly.  The plan was to beat the sun and try to take some pictures with the sky bright and orange.  Here's how it turned out...

Secret swim hole at sunrise

A little further out waves were crashing on some rocks.
 Unreal view of the sunrise

They should have a HRS for hiking and not only for ocean places.

After watching the sunrise from the pond we checked out early from our home stay and slowly made our way back to Kahului via Hana Highway.  Our next stop was Hamoa beach to get some waves in.  Hamoa beach is a nice black sand beach in Hana town.  I jumped into the shore break with my Gopro and snapped some pictures.

There aren't any showers here but the waves are nice.

I was sitting on a sand bar and waves just kept coming!

Look at the clarity of the water.

Behind the barrel shot

Of course waves closed down on me. 

After spending an hour in some good waves we left the beach en route to find Kaihalulu beach.  We couldn't find this illusive beach but we did find another red sand beach.  The beach was small but the peninsula where it was located was also where Queen Ka'ahumanu was born. 

There was a super small strip of red sand next to Hana Bay.

Katie and I stumbled upon Queen Ka'ahumanu's plaque.

After driving around trying to look for the red sand beach we couldn't find we decided to try the Hana banana bread.  We stopped on the side of the road and picked up banana bread.  It's a must try in Hana.  After the banana bread stand the Katie wanted to check out the largest Heiau in the Hawaiian Islands.  We stopped at Pi'ilanihale. 

 This is the banana bread stand we stopped at.  

 This shop had six different variations of banana bread

 As seen from the road. 

 The admission is $5.00 Kama'aina rate.

We cannot set foot on the structures so we looked at it from afar.  Haleakala in the distance.

Some Kalo.

Some sweet potato. 

They had a canoe hale.

Of course a canoe was in it. 

 On the slopes of Haleakala.
After spending an hour at the Heiau we had two more stops in Hana.  Two falls on the side of Hana Highway. 

One of the falls you have to hike 10 minutes to get to. 

Group picture at Three Bears waterfalls.  Waikani Falls

Kissy picture

A spur of the moment decision came when I wanted to go to Haleakala.  We had a few hours to kill but we still had to grab dinner and check in at the airport.  We got to the top in less than an hour with my awesome driving skills! 

We talked about doing Holua Cabin one day soon.  

Rounding out our trip on top Haleakala

I've always had a special place for Maui in my heart.  It is my favorite island out of all the islands I've visited.  I hope to come back soon and explore more of these waterfalls!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A little bit of everything...

After the waterfall hike in the morning we were running a little behind.  We got back to our cars a little after 11:30 am.  The next hike was going to take 5 hours (to be on the safe side).  On top of that we were at least an hour or hour and a half away from the trail head.  We quickly packed our wet things and headed to a park.  On the way there we ate some sandwiches and made a quick restroom stop.  When we got to the trail head it was almost 1 p.m.

We made our way through some cow pastures and onto a river bed.  After 10 minutes of going the wrong way we turned around.  We rocked hopped up stream and came to a point where we had to get in the water and swim.  I was one of the last to get into the pool because I wanted to film the group going through it.  The next obstacle was the hau tangle.  Some went under, some went through it, but I went above it.  It was pretty cool because it was like a jungle gym.  After the hau tangle the difficulty increased.  We came to a choke point where the water goes through a narrow gully and flows downstream.  The gully made a small waterfall about 10-15 ft high in which you had to climb.  This was the most difficult part of the hike.  You had to climb some really wet rock that was unstable.  The rock was clay like and if you didn't pick your footholds and handholds correctly it might break off.  The group opted to "stem" this route where you use all four limbs with opposing forces against the walls to make your way up.  The straight up the waterfall method might work but you'll have to face a little overhanging ledge with water blasting in your face.  One slip here could be disastrous.  The water here flows over a rocky bottom with nothing to cushion your fall.   Toward the top, there was a chain to aid our final move up the waterfall.  Everyone made it up safely.

The next leg of the hike involved hiking through a dark cave.  We climbed up two waterfalls with some light shining through the entrance of the cave.  After that it was completely dark unless you brought a headlamp (which I did not).  Cory set up a shot of us climbing a 20 ft waterfall in pitch black.  After the waterfall we swam through a few more pools and made our way out of the cave.  We had to squeeze through some grating and took a right to overlook where the water used to flow.  The water was being directed into the cave by a man-made ditch.  The ditch was most likely used to feed the pastures, which we crossed at the beginning of the hike.  If the water didn't flow into the ditch it would feed a giant 80ft waterfall.  After looking over the edge of the cliff, we followed the stream and came to a nice large pool with a 35 ft waterfall.  We stayed there for over an hour and enjoyed the sun while Baron and Cory went to go look for the trail. 

Most people do this hike in and out.  However, Cory knew of a trail that made this hike a loop.  After about an hour, Cory and Baron came back to give us the good news that they had found the trail.  We bushwhacked through some ginger and eventually found a ridge.  We made our way down the ridge via a contour trail.  Some of it was a little sketchy and we had to tromp through tunnels of uluhe.  At the bottom of the ridge we were at the terminus of another popular hike.  There was another waterfall with a big pool to relax at.  Now that the technical part of the hike was done, all we had to do was hike out... I mean swim out!

Right after we passed the waterfall with the pool we came to an even larger pool.  We had no choice but to swim.  This pool was giant!!!!  It is probably the biggest natural pool I've ever seen.  To give you an idea, it's almost as long as an Olympic size pool.  I opted to jump off the rocks and start to swim.  We all had dry bags which made swimming across it a bit easier.  The dry bags had air in them so they floated, which made for great floatation devices!  After the gigantic pool we hit a number of smaller waterfalls.  Most of the group made their way around these waterfalls, but I decided to jump in and swim across.  The group walked through a bamboo forest, crossed a plank bridge and found ourselves a little way down the road from where we parked. 

This was probably the most fun hike we did on the trip.  We got to climb, swim, hike a ridge, and see some waterfalls...all rolled up into one short 5 hour hike.

Some hau you have to navigate through or swim...

The narrow gully.  Matt stemming up the waterfall while Katie watches on. 

Katie trying to figure out where to place her hands and feet.

She tops out soon after

Me goofing off!

The group going cave spelunking!

Us setting up for the shot! 

The shot!  By: Cory Came out good for a pitch black cave!

 After the cave you have to squeeze through this gate!

After emerging from the cave.  The water supposed to be flowing to here but is diverted to the cave and out to the pasture land. 
I had a blast doing this hike/swim/climb.  It tested out all of our abilities and the group did well!  Definitely going to come back on this hike soon.  Gopro worked really well... didn't even bring my DSLR because I was afraid it was gonna get soaked!

A little bit of everything from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.